Château de Meudon

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Virtual Restitution of the Château Vieux de Meudon (now destroyed)
The Grande Coupole of the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon occupies the restored Château Neuf at Meudon.

The Château de Meudon, also called the royal castle of Meudon or imperial palace of Meudon, was a French château in Meudon in the Hauts-de-Seine. On the edge of a wooded plateau, the castle offers views of Paris and the Seine, as well as of the valley of Chalais. Ideally located between Paris and Versailles, in the heart of an abundant hunting reserve, and with an ideal topography for large gardens, it has been grandly arranged by its successive owners from the Renaissance until the fall of the Second French Empire. It should not be confused with the Château de Bellevue, also in Meudon.

Notable past residents include the Anne de Pisseleu d'Heilly Duchess of Étampes, the Cardinal of Lorraine, Abel Servien, François Michel Le Tellier Marquis de Louvois, and Louis, Grand Dauphin, known as Monseigneur, who attached the castle of Chaville to the Château de Meudon. The Château-Vieux (Old Castle) burned down in 1795 and was rebuilt as the Château-Neuf (New Castle), which in turn burned down in 1871. Demolition was considered, but most of the château was conserved and from 1878 became an observatory with an Astronomical telescope, then was attached to the Observatory of Paris in 1927.

The entire domain of Meudon has been classified as a historical monument since 12 April 1972. Hangar Y in the Chalais-Meudon park has been classified as a historical monument since 4 June 2000.



"There are few architects, citizens, and enlightened foreigners who have not desired as we did, that the expenses which have been incurred at Versailles would have been made at Meudon as the most beautiful place in the world, Disposition, and situation. " - J. F. Blondel, Cours d'Architecture ..., 1773, Tome 4, p. 132.

View of Paris from Meudon (detail). Langlacé, 1818. Musée d'art et d'histoire de Meudon.

Meudon at the end of the Middle Ages[edit]

The lords of "Meudon" (1200s-1413)[edit]

There is little information regarding the origin of the castle, the floor plan itself being unknown. However, many records exist of 12th-century lords whose patronymic name was "Meudon". Marie-Thérèse Herlédan published an account of this period in her book Meudon, Before the King. There were various positions at court, such as that of Robert de Meudon, the lord of King Philip the Fair. His title was mentioned in a deed of 1305.

Augustin Isbarre (1413-1425)[edit]

The castle was sold on July 17, 1413 by Jean de Montrevel, owner of one of the Castle's fiefs and the Lord of the King, to the wealthy Augustin Isbarre. In 1422 Isbarre, whose family served as the financial personnel of the royal family,[1] was appointed cupbearer of the king. He died in Paris on August 27, 1425 and was buried at the Convent of the Grands Augustins.


The Sanguin family and the Duchesse d'Étampes (1426-1552)[edit]

The fief of Meudon was bought in 1426 by Guillaume Sanguin, valet de chambre of Charles VII and treasurer of the Duke of Burgundy. He was previously associated with the former owner Augustin Isbarre, a provost of the merchants of Paris from 1429 to 1431. It seems that he had built a manor instead of restoring the old castle. He died in Paris on 14 February 1441. Jean Sanguin, known as the "Bastard of Sanguin", inherited the seigniory of his father; he died in Paris on November 13, 1468. He had several children, including Antoine Sanguin, who inherited the fief and became lord of Meudon. Antoine later married Marie Simon and died on 18 October 1500.

The manor was demolished by Antoine Sanguin, who, according to the son of the previous owner Cardinal de Meudon, had built a square house of brick and stone on the first floor with an attic and skylights. It was adorned with Italian pilasters, headbands and stone framing. The plan of the castle had supposedly influenced that of the Castle of the Great Garden, in Joinville, a property of the Guise. Antoine Sanguin donated the castle to his niece Anne of Pisseleu, known as Mlle d '[Chateau d'Heilly Heilly], on 5 September 1527. She became the mistress of François I, and almost became the "Queen of France". In order to better accommodate his mistress, François I financed the addition of "sumptuous edifices". This included two square pavilions on either side of the initial body and two wings that ended with identical pavilions. These extensions mirrored the style of the main building. Influenced by the Ecouen, corbelled corner towers were also added to the pavilions. The structure was similar to the works undertaken at the Marchais Castle, then owned by Nicolas de Longueval, Count of Bossut and Superintendent of Finance under Francois I, who belonged to the inner circle of the Duchess of Etampes. The same unknown architect headed the expansion of properties in Meudon and Marchais, as well as those of the neighboring castle of Sissonne, which is also of the same style. A triumphal arch was also built into the center of the fence wall, serving as a majestic entrance to the courtyard.

François made a lengthy stay in Meudon, from July 11, 1537 to August 5. He repeatedly stayed there until his death in 1547.

Cardinal of Lorraine and the de Guises (1552-1654)[edit]

The church of Meudon in the Renaissance. Bibliothèque Mazarine, ms 3361, f ° 76, p. 96

On the death of Francis I, Anne de Pisseleu, then in disgrace, had to sell the estate of Meudon in 1552 to Charles de Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine (1524-1574).[2] This cession put an end to the presence of the Sanguin family in Meudon, which had lasted more than a century. The former favorite retired to the Chateau de Heilly, where she died in September 1580.

The cardinal then transformed his residence, drawing inspiration from the Italian models he discovered during trips to Rome. A letter of December 28, 1552, addressed to his sister-in-law, Anne d'Este, says: "I have been at Meudon while I am in Paris, and I beg you to assure you that the house is finished as it is May easily be added to it by adding to it certain small invitations, which I have dressed, and our tests of marbles, which are in Paris, it is not to recognize the wonders of other beautiful houses of this kingdom, nor any healthier prince, Before Quaresme takes hold of you and you and your husband and you will see if I am good profiles and if there is fault, reproach me ... "

"The magnificent castle of Meudon", by Claude Chastillon, about 1600

The cardinal has the wings on the side of a gallery surmounted by a terrace, on drawings of the Primatice. The interiors are decorated with scenes from the Council of Trent, in which he participated actively, probably in the style of what was realized in Italy at the same time by Taddeo and Federigo Zuccaro. Terraced gardens and a first orangerie were created around small buildings, including a small fantasy palace dedicated to nymphs and muses, the famous "Grotto of Meudon", still built on the drawings of Primatice, between 1552 and 1560, and decorated with compositions by the artist. It forms a small palace under a platform formed of arcades, sheltered from view, since a hill visually separates this place from the old castle, as is justified on a print of Israel Silvestre representative Cave. The latter is actually made up of three pavilions on the slope, mixing Italian and French styles. The central pavilion houses the cave proper, decorated with mosaics, shells, corals and majolica, and whose prime contractor is Primatice himself. On the floor of the central pavilion, antiques are displayed in a large living room. Sauval indicates that the Diane de Versailles had been brought from Italy and placed in the castle of Meudon, but recent research seems to prove the contrary. / document</ref>. This cave enjoyed immediate success and was praised by Pierre de Ronsard in the "Pastoral Song on the Wedding of Charles," Duke of Lorraine and Madame Claude.

In 1568, Giorgio Vasari was enthusiastic about the Grotto, which echoed as far as Italy: "At Meudon, for the Cardinal of Lorraine, Primatice executed many decorations in his great palace called La Grotte, So extraordinary that it recalls the ancient baths, because of the infinite number and the size of its galleries, staircases, public and private apartments. The construction of this cave was spread out over time, starting with the construction of the Grotto itself and the two ramps of the staircase (circa 1552-1555), and then, in a second stage, the two pavilions (1559). The lower crypto-portico was then built in a third phase.

Catherine de Cleves, Duchess of Guise, widow of Henry I de Guise, said the Balafré

At the death of the Cardinal of Lorraine in 1574, the castle remained property of the family of Guise, of which it is one of the fiefs, with the castle of Joinville (Haute-Marne).

Meudon was plundered during the Wars of Religion. And it was at Meudon that the future Henri IV (Henry IV) learned of the assassination of King Henry III (King of France) on 1 August 1589, from Jacques Clément. Henry of Navarre will see the very same day in Saint-Cloud, the wounded king, who reassured him about his state of health. Henri went back to bed at Meudon. Maximilian de Bethune, Duc de Sully, who accompanied him, sleeps him at "Sauvat", in a house in the village. The next day, August 2, the king's condition worsened, he died at Saint-Cloud, and Henry of Navarre became King of France, the first Bourbon king.

Henri de Guise, the scarred, will hardly have time to stay at Meudon. He was assassinated in 1588. Meudon became one of the seats of the League. On July 24, 1605, the marriage of Francois de Bourbon, Prince of Conti (1558-1614) was celebrated in the chapel of the chateau with Louise Marguerite of Lorraine (1588-1631). In 1618, the Duke of Lorraine entrusted his architect, Gabriel Soulignac, to modify the castle and extend the gardens. (See Memorial of 27 July 1618, AN, MC, XXIV, 132). Other work was carried out by Soulignac in 1623, with the construction of a terrace and a staircase close to the Grotto.

In 1639, Jacques Dubreuil boasted at Meudon the "perrons et tournelles". "The garden is moderately large, made of flower beds, borders, open and naked, surrounded by alees strewn with beautiful trees, with balusters." Above all, on the 18th of May 1643, the union of Gaston d'Orléans, brother of Louis XIII with Marguerite de Lorraine, was renewed in the chapel of the castle, with the blessing of the Archbishop of Paris.

The domain was still plundered under the Fronde, since the Lorraine princes who owned Meudon had taken the side of the rebellion against royal authority. Thus, in 1649, the Grand Condé, at the head of the royal army, seized Charenton, Saint-Denis, Saint-Cloud and Meudon.

A jewel of the Grand Siècle[edit]

Abel Servien and the "marquis de Sablé" (1654-1679)[edit]

Meudon, in poor condition, was then bought on 12 September 1654 by Abel Servien, Superintendent of Finance, who took the title of Baron de Meudon. As soon as the purchase was made, Servien had extensive renovation work done by the architect Louis Le Vau. It is because he is at the peak of his career, and that Meudon must reflect this power. In Paris, Servien lived in the Hôtel de la Roche-Guyon, near the Palais Royal, at least between 1651 and 1659. The castle was then richly furnished and decorated. The central foredeck is replaced by an octagonal pavilion, surmounted by a high truncated pyramid roof. In the center of the pavilion is a large double-staircase. A large staircase, adorned with 12 columns of marble monoliths precedes it. The first floor houses a large dome-shaped living room, open on the gardens, similar to the one built at the same time by Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, which exercises the Superintendent of Finance with Servien, and under the authority of Servien, who is older than he. Servien had a large terrace on the front yard to be built, in order to clear the view of the castle, engulfing at the passage near the third of the village of Meudon, which he moved elsewhere. On the side of the gardens, he built a monumental orangery, still preserved today. He did not forget to enlarge the park, which had existed at least since the Duchesse d'Étampes. At the cost of many land purchases, he managed to drill a "Grande Perspective" south of the castle, Ponds, including Chalais. Letters Patent dated August 31, 1657 bear "permission to extend the park of Meudon, to enclose it of walls, although the acquired inheritances are in the neighborhood of the pleasures of His Majesty", in other words, of Versailles neighbor .

When the Queen Christine of Sweden came to France, she offered Servien the bronze of Adrian de Vries, "Mercury and Psyche", now preserved in the Louvre Museum. . Servien placed this bronze at the end of the pit, just above his new orangery.

Servien died on February 17, 1659 at Meudon himself, in his apartment on the ground floor, having swallowed a real fortune in Meudon, still under construction.

His son, Louis-François Servien, marquess of Sablé, protector of La Fontaine, keeps the estate for 20 years. On 2 August 1665, the Cavalier Bernin came to visit Meudon. Louis-Francois Servien was finally forced to sell the estate of Meudon to Louvois in 1679. Already a year earlier, in 1678, members of the Academy of Architecture came to visit Meudon, and found that "what was made of nine in the castle on the side of the garden in the days of M. Servien is very ruined, The cornice of the middle pavilion ". (P. V. I. 193).

Louvois, and his wife, Anne de Souvré (1679-1695)[edit]

Thumbnail of Pierre Paul Sevin, describing on the left Les Invalides, symbol of the weapons, and on the right the old castle of Meudon, symbol of the Arts, about 1690, with, in the center, the weapons of Le Tellier
Miss Louvois to Meudon. Museum of Versailles. At the back is the parterre and the Grotto.

For the powerful minister, who was calling himself "M. de Chaville" in his youth, the situation of Meudon is ideal, near Versailles and Chateau de Chaville, where the family property is located. Was rebuilt by his father, Michel Le Tellier (statesman), Michel Le Tellier]. Louvois, who obtained the superintendence of the buildings in 1683, then embarked on a series of grandiose developments. He enriched the façade of the chateau with busts and balconies on columns, in gray marble. He sumptuously redecorated the whole interior. He had woodwork done in 1684. Above the doors, there are paintings of flowers in the style of Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer, a cabinet presents miniatures of the Versailles groves painted by Cotelle A gift from Louis XIV in 1688 to thank his minister for the perfect completion of the marble Trianon. The large gallery, which occupies the entire right wing on the first floor, is adorned with 12 paintings by Adam François van der Meulen and Van der Meulen, or Martin, on the great battles of the reign.

Nicodemus Ticino the Younger took care to note the following during his visit to the castle in 1687. "In Meudon, I went with a Gascon gentleman (who drew all the views of ancient Egypt ]], And with M. Silvestre The views, of which I have some, make it possible to know the most important things. At the four corners of the composition, simulating the stucco, two seated figures and two standing figures were painted: in the corners and between the statues, the ceiling was painted directly on the vault by M. de La Fosse, There was like an ox-eye because the sky was visible. Beside the figures and to make them all the better, Had everywhere rich carpets of different colors, and between the first and the other, large ovals, in the center of which were represented the subjects of Pandora. Beside them, Mercury was particularly well painted. The vault stretched over the upper cornice, and the shadow below made a very good impression. The large stucco listels all around were completely golden. The contiguous room must also have been painted by him Charles de La Fosse. At the top, in the oval room, the ice cream was very good. They were arranged circularly and were as tall as the five windows. There was only a woodwork of a half-high. In each panel were placed three ice sheets, about 6 qv. High and, when you were in the center of the panel, you could see each other in the three windows at once. The gallery was nicely decorated with a number of tables of jasper, busts, etc., and all the King's actions were to be painted by Van der Meulen; Two were already completed. At one end of the gallery there was a drawing-room, in which the table and the whole panel between the two windows were lined with mirror glass, and the opening of the doors was so great that, Far, one could almost see the whole gallery. There is, moreover, a profusion of beautiful, very large mirrors. The furniture was very fine, but not of a peculiar taste. All winters are removed because of soil moisture. Beneath, in M. de Louvois's own room, there were three pipes of copper which permitted heat to pass at will. This heat came from a copper stove placed in the chimney of the neighboring room. A ventilation pipe passing under the vestibule arrived at this chimney, and then distributed the heat, when the window of this chamber was opened (like the "heat-making machine" at Versailles).

Born to one of the sides of the stable by pillars of stones or buttresses, the house is externally in very bad condition. The site is rugged to the possible but nevertheless very pleasant. The central aisle below in the garden in front of the terraces, is covered with turf and 70 yards wide; Then, in the middle of an alley of sand of eight yards wide, are spruces and other trees; Then, on two sides, a new lawn of nine yards, and again a sandy alley with trees eight yards wide. The parterre of M. Le Nostre, in the middle, in front of the cave that I have drawn, is very nice, so the two "embroidery" in the center in front of the house, with two marble vases and marble statues around the oval basin, hand-built as tiles did not do a bad effect. I also drew the boxes of the orange trees there, taking them separately. This garden is surrounded, as well as the park, by a wall at least seven miles in circumference. At the bottom of the garden was another large pleasure-house, which M. de Louvois had bought for life for M. Honoré Courtin Courtin.

Outside, Louvois had extensive hydraulic works to power the waterways of the park, and allow the most spectacular water jets. The upper park was developed, while Le Notre worked on the gardens continually throughout the 1680s and created practically all of the lower gardens, invented new groves and parterre, including the one in front of the Grotto. Louvois also arranged a large vegetable garden along the avenue of the castle, in order to meet the needs of the castle, a vegetable garden which would later be called "the vegetable garden of the Dauphin". In short, he builds everything at Meudon that Louis XIV did in a more spectacular way still at Versailles at the same time. And he asked Israel Silvestre, drawing master of the Louis de France to engrave the entire estate, which Silvestre carried out with several very spectacular prints, among the most careful of his work.

Recreation of the collation given to Queen Marie-Thérèse by Louvois in July 1681 in Meudon
Restoration of the stable of the Court of the Offices of the castle of Meudon in the time of Louvois, around 1685

In July 1681, the Queen of France, Maria Theresa of Austria (1638-1683), came to visit Meudon, where "Mr. de Louvoy had the honor of serving her" (d After the "Mercure Galant" of July 1681.) On August 17, 1684, Louvois had a great feast prepared for Meudon, in honor of Philip of Orleans (1640-1701). The King, and his wife, owners of the neighboring castle of Saint-Cloud, especially on July 2, 1685, Louis XIV, Louis de France The Dauphin, the Dauphine, Monsieur and Madame, "accompany the greater part of the Princes and Lords of the Court," come to Meudon, where Louvois treats the King and the whole Court " Of magnificence. "It was given" a magnificent collation, during which all the violins and oboes of the Opera played melodies by Jean-Baptiste Lully "(...)" But M. de Louvo He was sorry to see that he was pleased the whole time the king was with him." In 1686, a reception is still given to Meudon, in honor of the Siam ambassadors, who discovered both the gardens and the castle. Louvois was not present to receive them since he was with Maintenon and the King, to follow the work on the Eure canal. On August 25, 1689, Louvois again received Philip of Orleans (1640-1701) at dinner in Meudon. On the 29th of June, 1691, two weeks before the sudden death of Louvois, "Monseigneur went to Meudon with Madame Princesse de Conti; they made a snack at the chateau, and walked for a long time in the park and in the gardens "(Dangeau).

On July 16, 1691, Louvois died suddenly at Versailles. He had reached the point of honors, and the splendor of Meudon symbolized this power materially.

On the proposal of Louis XIV, the widow of Louvois, Anne of Souvré and his son Barbézieux agreed to exchange Meudon for the Chateau de Choisy and a balance. In the memoirs of the Marquis de Dangeau, on Wednesday June 1, 1695: "In the morning, the king proposed to M. de Barbezieux the exchange of Choisy with Meudon; He asked her how much Madame de Louvois had taken Meudon in her share; M. de Barbezieux told him that she had taken him for a unit of 500,000 francs; The King told him that he would give him 400,000 of his return, and Choisy, whom he counted for 100,000 francs, if that were agreeable to Madame de Louvois; That he charged him to go and learn of her, but that he did not ask her for any complacency; That he wished that she should treat with him as with a private person, and should think only of his interests. M. de Barbezieux went to Paris to find his mother, who is pleased with the king's offer, and to whom the exchange is well suited. The contract will be signed on the first day; We started talking about business only in the morning, and it was finished in the evening." The castle, valued at 500,000 livres, and already considerably embellished by succeeding owners, knew its most brilliant period.

Detail of the painting Louvois chassant à Meudon (Louvois Hunting at Meudon). Musée de Versailles, circa 1683
Projet non réalisé de dôme for the central pavilion of the château-vieux de Meudon, par Jules Hardouin-Mansart pour Louvois, vers 1685-1691. Bibliothèque Mazarine, ms 3361
Essai of restitution of the cabinet of miniatures in Versailles, painted by Cotelle, condition around 1690 under Louvois

The apogee: Louis XIV and Monseigneur (1695-1711)[edit]

Monseigneur, dit "le Grand Dauphin", par Hyacinthe Rigaud
La porte Dauphine, réalisée en 1703 à l'entrée du domaine.
Essai de restitution de l'illumination du 27 août 1704, en l'honneur de la naissance du duc de Bretagne.

The great works of the prince[edit]

"Veue du château de Meudon du côté de l'entrée", Aveline, vers 1710.
Restitution du plan de table du dîner offert par Monseigneur au duc de Mantoue, le 26 mai 1704, au château de Meudon.

The Grand Dauphin did do great work at the castle of Meudon and contributed to its special cassette at the expense and embellishments of the castle for a sum of one million one hundred forty thousand livres, although the king his father had put the crown buildings among the royal residences and load. For 16 years, at least 3 million pounds were spent on embellishing and maintaining the estate, a colossal sum. The prince redecorated the apartments to his liking. The Dauphin allowed Meudon to express his own artistic conceptions, breaking with the sometimes compassed aspect of the Louis XIV style. Without this being done for the first time, we systematized in Meudon wood-use "on Capucine" wall wooden carved and glazed, decorated with gold. The Regency style is set up partly in Meudon. The Dauphin Castle meets at its rich collections, trying to compete with those of the king: agate vases, Indian fabrics, Gobelins tapestries, Chinese porcelain, paintings by great masters and especially his collection of gems. He does not hesitate to decorate some parts several times, removing for example the ceiling painted by Charles de La Fosse to give expression to the light style of Claude Audran III. Its main apartment was located along the ground floor of the East wing of the Château-Vieux. It will also have the Château-Neuf parade apartment, as well as a "Small Fresh Apartment" in the chestnut wing.

The Dauphin likes to surround himself at Meudon with his family, his friends and courtiers, in particular the Marie-Anne of Bourbon (1666- 1739) Princess of Conti] and the Duchess, her two half-sisters, Louis-Antoine de Pardaillan de Gondrin D'Antin son of Montespan. He also lodges his mistress, Mademoiselle de Choin. Like his father at Castle of Marly, the dolphin likes to find a more relaxed and warm atmosphere in Meudon with a chosen company. To accommodate this numerous succession, the Dauphin must undertake extensive works of extension. In 1702, the space of the Château-Vieux soon proved inadequate. He had the chestnut wing, the former courtyard of the offices, rearranged so as to connect it to the chateau by a suspended gallery. There is a large reception room on the ground floor. It also builds new common, which are still visible. He also entrusted to Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the architect of all these works, the construction of a chapel. Antoine Coypel, one of the favorite painters of the Dauphin, paints the altar paintings, the "Resurrection", a monumental painting, and the "Annunciation", much smaller in size. The sculptures are realized by Noël Jouvenet, François Lespingola and Jean Hardy.

In 1705, the place is still lacking to accommodate the courtiers, more and more numerous. It is that at any moment, Monseigneur may become the next king of France, by the death of Louis XIV. The Dauphin then decides to demolish the famous cave, passed from fashion, and to build a new castle, the Château-Neuf . Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Louis XIV were entrusted with the project, entrusted to the contractors of the Palace Chapel of Versailles. All the works of Meudon are indeed made by the same artists employed by the king, those who work for the institution of the King's Buildings. The Château-Neuf has five levels, but due to the steep slope, it does not have the same appearance on the side of the pit and the side of the forest. It is composed of three pavilions crowned with roofs with ridge terrace, connected by two housing units. This sober architecture, which should not obscure the architectural character of the neighboring Château-Vieux, is nevertheless enriched by fine sculptures on the side pavilions, and the central pediments, where angels are found supporting the arms of the Dauphin. Inside, rows of apartments open onto a large median corridor. The interior decoration, which highlights the collections of the Dauphin, is composed of varnished or painted panels of light colors, enhanced by gilding. A state-of-the-art apartment is planned to receive Monseigneur, since Louis XIV retains his usual accommodation within the Château-Vieux, despite the new construction. The Château-Neuf is the admiration of all Europe. Duke of Antin in the Petit-Bourg castle in Evry.

Le château de Meudon du côté de l'entrée, par Pierre-Denis Martin, 1723. Musée de Versailles.

The richness of the "hanging gardens"[edit]

Légende d'un détail du tableau d'Etienne Allegrain montrant Louis XIV à Versailles. On reconnaît le roi, à sa droite son fils Monseigneur le Dauphin, et à côté André Le Nôtre, qui fait la visite du jardin

The gardens are not to be outdone. The poem entitled Royal House of Meudon , dated 1703, compares them even to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the hanging gardens of Semiramis in Babylon]. To enlarge Meudon, the dauphin acquired in 1696 the neighboring estate of Chaville. He thus formed a vast reserve of hunting, where he and his father, who also likes Meudon, practice the venery. The park of Meudon is thus linked to that of Versailles, and together make up the Grand Parc de Versailles, going from Meudon to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Many embellishments are carried out in the gardens. Louis XIV takes pleasure in advising his son on the matter. The King - or his son - even draws up a "Meudon" style on the model of the texts written for Versailles.

18th century[edit]

The cour d'honneur of the Château-Vieux at Meudon in the 18th century

At the death of the Dauphin in 1711, the castle is still perfectly maintained, since the King's Buildings take care of it. Nevertheless, until the death of Louis XIV, no member of the royal family returned to Meudon, as a result of the remarks made by Louis XIV the day after the death of his lord son, wishing that the new dauphin, the Duke of Burgundy, make no more trips to Meudon. The Marquis de Sourches, on the 17th of April, 1711, notes that "Meudon was completely dismembered and that all the furniture was carried to the King's furniture-keeper."

On 17 May 1717, the Tsar Peter the Great, accompanied by Prince Rakoczy and the Marshal de Tessé The day after the arrest of Voltaire, the Czar passed through Les Invalides as he returned from Meudon, It was said that the envy having taken him to go to the saddle, and being on a pierced chair, he asked for a paper from the valet who had brought it to him, who, not having to give him, And then presented it to the valet, who apologized for receiving it, because the porter had forbidden him to take anything from any one, which the Czar, after having told him several times, He took him down on the ground, and the concierge, having heard the valet's account, said to him, laughing heartily: "Go, I am glad that the paper has failed you to take advantage of this crown, to give you a means of drinking the health of the prince with your comrades. " The Regency, Jean Buvat, 17 May 1717."

On May 16, 1718, of Ventadour made fireworks for Louis XV, who stayed all summer in Meudon, two or three times per week. On the following June 6, a new fireworks display was made in honor of the King.

The Duchess of Berry, daughter of the Regent (1718-1719)[edit]

Portrait of duchess of Berry, by Pierre Gobert

Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans, Duchess of Berry, eldest daughter of the Regent, owned the Castle of Amboise and was eager to swap it for Meudon. The Regent eventually agreed to the exchange on 30 October 1718. The Duchess of Berry, who was then pregnant, gave the management of this new residence to her paramour, the Count of Riom, lieutenant of her guards.[3] Riom took possession of the castle on 31 October. But the governor in office, Hyacinthe de Gauréault Dumont nevertheless retained his salary. On 2 November 1718, the Duchess went to Meudon to choose her apartments. On 8 February and 24 March 1719, the Regent came to Meudon to have supper with his beloved daughter, by then just about to give birth.[4]

From April 12 to May 14, 1719, the Duchess of Berry, was convalescing in Meudon, hoping to recover from her harrowing delivery. She died on July 21, 1719, at her castle of La Muette in Paris, where she had been transported from Meudon. On 22 July 1719, a few hours after her death, the seals were affixed to her properties: the Luxembourg palace, her castles of La Muette and Meudon.[5]

Saint-Simon (1719-1722)[edit]

After the death of his daughter, Regent made Meudon available in favor of Saint-Simon one of his principal advisers, a considerable honor. Thus, the famous memorialist could stay close to Saint-Cloud, where the Regent owned his family castle. On the night of June 15–16, 1722, the marriage of the daughter of Saint-Simon, Charlotte of Saint-Simon, with the Prince de Chimay was celebrated at the chateau. The blessing was given by the Abbe Languet de Gercy, pastor of Saint-Sulpice.

The stays of Louis XV and his children[edit]

Louis XV and the Infante Reine. François de Troy, 1723
View of the château of Meudon on the parterres side. Gravure par Jacques Rigaud, vers 1730.

Le 27 septembre 1722, à la demande du jeune roi, le Maréchal de Villars vient à Meudon voir le fortin construit pour Louis XV, qui « lui parla souvent de son fort et le mena à toutes les attaques ». Rappelons que Louis XV était petit-fils de Monseigneur.

"Dessein de l'illumination et du feu d'artifice donné à monseigneur le Dauphin à Meudon le 3.e septembre 1735". BNF

On the 17th of April, 1723, the King went to Meudon, went through the apartments of the Chateau, and gave some orders for the stay which his Majesty was to go there to do. Indeed, from 4 June to 13 August 1723, Louis XV, the "Infante Reine", the Regent and the Court settled in Meudon for a month, time enough to restore Versailles to house the young sovereigns. On August 10, Cardinal William Dubois died at Versailles. "As soon as he was dead, the Duke of Orleans returned to Meudon to inform the King of this news, who begged him to take charge of all the conduct of affairs, declared him Prime Minister, and was sworn in on the following day" . Pierre-Denis Martin (1663-1742) painted for the king "A vision of Meudon in perspective that includes all the park and the castle, Monseigneur entering there."

On December 14, 1725, the new queen Marie Leszczynska, who married Louis XV on September 4, came to visit Meudon for the first time.

Finally, in September 1726, a royal edict brought together Meudon at the Crown Estate with the land that depended on it, with the exception of Chaville Castle and Park, and Castle and farm of Villacoublay. On this occasion, the arms of Le Tellier - azure, with three lizards of silver laid in pal, to the chief sewn Gules charged with three gold stars - which were still in place within the central pediment, are erased.

In May 1733, at Versailles, a scene was set up between Louis XV and the governor of the castle of Meudon: Marquis de Pellevé,

"Stay of the Children of France in Meudon in 1733.

The sojourn of the children of France at Meudon was decided at the beginning of May, 1733, in an assembly of doctors held in Versailles, with regard to their health, the death of Madame The Duke of Anjou having frightened the others.

Their journey was subsequently scheduled for the 21st of the same month and a few days before De Pellevé, Governor of this castle, speaking of their stay with M. le Cardinal de Fleury, told him that it would cause him some expense, and that he was persuaded that his Eminence wished And to treat him like his predecessor M. Hyacinthe de Gauréault Dumont had been there while the feu Roy remained there, and to grant him the same gratification.

The cardinal replied that the king's affairs were not in a position to make such graces, which did not prevent him from taking the time that the cardinal was with the king to speak to him in the presence of His Majesty and His Eminence told him the same thing.

He did not confine himself to these two rejections, he made the same request on the 21st, at the time when his Majesty was speaking to the duke Of Charot. The King replied that the matter was decided, which obliged him to cease. Only for a few moments: for he has again returned to the charge, and has represented to the King that he has interrupted a second time, the expense which he would be obliged to make, and the injustice which was done to him, His Majesty to tell the captain of his guards to take him out of his room. It was ordered to the officer of the guards who commanded Meudon not to let him enter the chamber of the Louis de France (1729-1765) or the ladies".

The parents of the queen: the stay of Stanislas Leszczyński (1736-1737)[edit]

Le roi Stanislas en 1728.

On 4 June 1736, Stanislas Leszczyński, after his abdication in April, settled in Meudon temporarily. "SM goes there at least once a week since the king and queen of Poland live there." (Duc Of Luynes).

On September 30, 1736, the secret signature of the famous "declaration of Meudon" by King Stanislas under the pressure of Louis XV and the Cardinal Fleury. According to the terms of the agreement, possession of the duchy of Bar will be "current" for Stanislas Leszczyński and "eventual" for Louis XV.

On January 18, 1737, Stanislas Leszczyński handed the seals to the new Chancellor, who swore an oath to the King of Poland. The ceremony takes place in the large vestibule of the Castle Vieux, on the ground floor of the central pavilion. The painting of Vincent, which relates this ceremony, is much later, since it dates only from 1778.

On March 31, 1737, "the king was today in Meudon bid farewell to the king and the Queen of Poland. (Duke of Luynes). They left Meudon the next day, 1er avril. The two castles are then unfurnished.

In the summer of 1743, facing the threat of Charles Alexander, Queen of Poland Catherine Opalińska, wife of Stanislas and mother of the Queen of France, took refuge in Meudon, while Stanislas took refuge in Metz.

Statue du XVIIe siècle italien, du type Athena Giustiniani, dite l'"Alexandre Mazarin". Musée du Louvre. Placée au XVIIIe siècle dans le Salon du Petit Pont, à l'un des bouts de la galerie.

The horseman of Frejus came to visit Meudon on May 5, 1748. He left the following description: " On the 5th of May [1748], the first Sunday of the month, I was at Meudon by the galliot. We went to Sevres and from Sèvres we went up to the convent of the Capuchin Friars Minor of Meudon where we heard mass. The church of its fathers is not curious, their garden is very beautiful. From there we ascended the terrace of Meudon to the chateau, which is situated on a mountain from which all the Paris and the surrounding villages are discovered. All the hills around Meudon are planted in vines and kept to the best. The castle is superb. I noticed on the large door the arms of Louvois and below the image of Louis XIV in metal. There is a gallery which reigns outside the windows of this beautiful castle, as well as a facade on the side of the garden, charming. The Swiss then took me to the apartments, which are very beautiful, though less extensive than those of the Palace of Versailles. I saw two chambers upholstered in tapestry of admirable beauty in the [Gobelin Manufacture | goblin].

Most rooms are covered with mirrors. The gallery leading to the chapel is superb. I saw there a very fine picture of the siege of Manheim under Louis XIV, a head of Porphyry which is inestimable. There is also one of Aristotle of marble of Egypt that the curious look like a masterpiece. The chapel of the castle is very smiling, with only one nave. There is only one altar whose painting represents the resurrection of our Lord JC but it is one of the most beautiful pictures that can be seen, and that one says of Raphael Antoine Coypel. I saw in an apartment of the castle the head of this painter made by himself, and that of Michelangelo. From the castle we were led to see the new apartment [the Château-Neuf] where was raised the castle park. He is very pretty and very laughing, but less handsome than the first. From the castles to the village which is at the foot of the mountain, one sees only parterres and gardens of a cleanliness and charming arrangement. We saw the orangeries, the greenhouses. They are far from being as beautiful as those of Versailles. From there we ascended by a superb staircase to the top of the mountain, where you find the most beautiful alleys of trees that can be seen, with beautiful pools of water. As you advance through the woods on the side of Sevres, you find a basin of prodigious expanse, and at the top of the mountain, beside a green meadow with a very graceful view. There are no beautiful statues in the alleys of Meudon or in the gardens, as in the park of Versailles. The castles themselves do not approach for the riches of that of Versailles but the position [de] Meudon (...) glance. The extent of the terrace makes it a very beautiful (...) The stables are not beautiful. After seeing all that there is to see, we were dined at Meudon in the village at the sign [...] [I gave] dinner for three, including me, for three books and we had (...) [I] have not eaten elsewhere of pigeons so fat (...)

The pre-eminence of the castle of Bellevue from 1750[edit]

Adulte, Louis XV prefers to Meudon the castle of Bellevue (Meudon) | castle of Bellevue] that it makes build for Madame de Pompadour. The castle is used for the accommodation of the courtiers, and the castle stables are used to serve Bellevue, whose stables are very modest.

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette in Meudon[edit]

Vue du parterre du Globe au château de Meudon en 1779. Jean Pierre Bocquet (Paris 1751 - Paris 1817). Albertina museum, inv. 12591. Gouache, 22 x 29 cm.

The new young king often liked to come and hunt in Meudon. One year after his accession, the architect [10] drew up an inventory dated October 10, 1775, which lists the "mirrors, marbles, paintings and other effects belonging to the King" placed at the castle. In the margin are drawn the diagrams of all the mirrors (Inventory preserved in the INHA library, carton 46, file XII, microfilm 24170-24198).

An edict of the king, in May 1778, united the domain of Meudon to that of Versailles, "to be governed and administered in the future in the same manner."

Louis XVI himself designed a pavilion called the "Trivaux Pavilion" in 1783, in an Anglo-Chinese style, which was finally corrected in a more French style by the architect Jean-François Heurtier. This pavilion was situated at the very top of the green carpet of Meudon, towards Meudon-la-Forêt. At Meudon Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette lost little Louis-Joseph de France, who died on June 4, 1789, a month before the capture of the Bastille.

In 1791, the castle still served as a holiday home for the new Dauphin, as represented by a watercolor by Jean-Baptiste Isabey.

In his "Journal," on June 8, 1788, Marquis de Bombelles describes Meudon:

"I accompanied the ladies to the ambassadors at the chateau de Meudon. The new castle, where we dined at the house of the Duke of Harcourt, was built by Monseigneur for Marie Émilie de Joly de Choin, his mistress. This castle is in a proportion which would render it suitable to every nobleman in a position to spend from 2 to 300,000 livres a year. It is not the same with the old castle. This palace, which M. de Louvois had enlarged, embellished with a magnificence as indecent as it is incredible, would still very easily be a truly royal residence. All the ceilings are painted in arabesque, as if the reigning taste had presided over their order. The cornices, the chimneys, the parquets of superb woodwork, nothing would need to be modernized. There is, in a turret, a cabinet painted also in arabesque on a background of gold, which is as fresh of paint as if it came from the hands of one of our best artists. It is a question of making this beautiful castle the home of all the summers, if we do not feel the sorrow of losing this prince".

19th century: between pomp and decline[edit]

After 10 August 1792, the fate of the castle became uncertain. The National Convention quickly took care to remove most of the over-the-door paintings, carefully disassembled and transferred to provincial museums, which saved them from destruction.

"Castle of the Republic" (1793-1795)[edit]

On November 4, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, appointed chief commissioner of the experiments of Meudon, took possession on behalf of the Minister of Marine of this place where he had suggested setting up a workshop. Artillery and conducting shell tests.

But Choderlos de Laclos stayed only one day in Meudon, since he was arrested the next day. The site is thus transformed by the Convention into a national facility for various events. It will serve as a factory for aerostats. Meudon then becomes truly the "castle of the Republic", which serves as a place of experimentation to arm the new regime. As such, the castle will be the object of an illumination paid by the public funds.

Nicolas-Jacques Conté was, together with several other scientists, in charge of these military and scientific experiments at Meudon, where he was given direction of the aerostation school established there. Conté had under his orders a confused gathering of young men in all professions, without any dye of chemistry, drawing, or mathematics, who were called upon to create an entirely new technique. Conté had to approach the elements of the different sciences, for this new teaching had to embrace everything: chemistry, physics, mechanics. Conté, by giving both theoretical and practical lessons, Conté had the models he gave, the instruments he imagined, executed by the hands of his pupils, spending his nights preparing drawings for his lessons, Experiences, sometimes dangerous.

The burning of the Château-Vieux (1795) and its demolition (from 1803)[edit]

Auction completed on September 27, 2016 in Nantes, study COUTON VEYRAC JAMAULT, lot 30. measurements: 59 x 74 cm (without frame) Collection of the museum of the Domain Department of Sceaux since 2016

In 1795, a fire, linked to the technical research of the occupants of places, ravaged the wing of chestnut trees and also attacks the west wing of the Castle-Vieux. The castle remains in the state nearly a decade. Many English visitors came to Meudon from 1802, and left several descriptions or drawings (for example the drawing of James Forbes). English colonel Henry Thornton Thornton, of Thornville-Royal, Yorkshire, describes the site in a letter written in English, dated August 31, 1802: The day before, M. Belanger had proposed to us an excursion to Meudon, a pretty park whose interior covered the walls of twenty miles, and which had been Designated as a more than desirable potential investment. A chair had been fixed on a most comfortable carriage, in view of this expedition. The castle of Meudon, originally residence of Madame de Pompadour [sic], consists of an immense block, unfortunately dilapidated. It nevertheless retains some traces of its past splendor. We were politely received by the concierge (or maybe he was the caretaker), whose manor was always likely to be converted into a pleasant one, in a beautiful park with a forest landscape covered with water jets and ponds. residence. This person led us to the castle, drawing our attention especially to the apartments of which the last occupant was none other than the unfortunate dauphin. I did not have time for further exploration of the park, but my guide informed me that it included farms, plains, etc., all within 500 acres, to which 10,000 acres of forest. He also told us that the walls were once partly collapsed, on the orders of the late king, in order to give the game the possibility of escape, but that these had since been repaired. He also pointed out that the estate comprised 29 water bodies of various sizes, leading me immediately to one of them, with a capacity of about 9 acres. The latter was walled and partly surrounded by a wooded landscape, but its shape offered, from a distance, a pleasant rendering. It was also necessary to take into account the presence of some fish, hares and rabbits, as well as a reasonable number of partridges on the estate. On the other hand, all the pheasants had been slaughtered. The whole of the castle, as I said before, is now in ruins, and to entirely shave it would entail considerable expense, the cement of these old buildings being particularly solid. But from the point of view of its extent and its proximity to the capital, Meudon would undoubtedly constitute a precious acquisition (...)

The painter Hubert Robert, who was in charge of the landscaping of the gardens of Meudon under Louis XVI, comes to draw the demolition site in 1804. The Château-Vieux is destroyed from [1803]. In 1805, there is still a small part of the Château-Vieux (southwestern pavilion) as well as the chapel, as indicated by François Collet Duclos in his report of 3 Ventose 13 (February 22, 1805). The whole was the subject of excavation works until about 1808, after recovering some ornaments, including the stone columns nowadays located in the small rotunda of the Palais du Luxembourg (Senate), that the architect Jean Chalgrin was able to reuse.

Napoleon : Meudon, Imperial Palace of the King of Rome (1807-1815)[edit]

Le roi de Rome, par François Gérard, 1811.
Vue depuis le bas du bastion des Capucins à Meudon, C.W. Eckersberg, 1813, Musée de Copenhague (Danemark) KMS 1623

After deciding in 1803 to demolish the Château-Vieux, which had been burnt down in 1795, and when he was only Bonaparte, Emperor Napoleon decided in 1807 to make Of the Château-Neuf de Meudon an imperial palace. He then restored the gardens and refurbished the Château-Neuf, notably by the architect Jean-Baptiste Lepère. A wing called the "Economat" was erected on the site of a part of the old chestnut wing that had just been destroyed. The Emperor, who wanted to make Meudon a "school of kings" in Europe, installed the King of Rome in 1811, under the responsibility of his governess, Louise Charlotte Françoise de Montesquiou. To this end, numerous orders have been made to furnish the palace of the Empire's heir (new Empire style decoration), furnishings, silks, etc.).

On April 22, 1811, Napoleon came to visit Meudon. On June 30, 1811, Meudon was placed at the disposal of Mother Mother. In April 1812, the King of Rome came to stay at Meudon. During the summer, Queen of Westphalia, wife of Jerome Bonaparte, also stays at Meudon, with Madame Mother. The Empress was said to have resided at the palace during the Russian campaign, although she was staying at Saint-Cloud. From March 24 to November 14, 1813, the Queen of Westphalia made another visit to Meudon.

But, at the fall of the First Empire, the castle lost its status of Imperial Palace.

Meudon under the Restoration and the Orleans[edit]

Ferdinand-Philippe d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans, by Ingres, 1842
Photograph of the château-neuf at Meudon in 1850, taken by Louis-Auguste Martin (1811-1875). Albertina Museum, FotoGLV2000/13822/7

Louis Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis-Philippe used Meudon as a hunting ground near Versailles, eminent.

Charles Ferdinand, son of Charles X, went there to hunt between 1815 and 1820.

After his abdication of the Imperial throne of Brazil on April 7, 1831 Dom Pedro (Pierre Ier) returned to Europe and settled in France with the title of Duke of Braganza. In the autumn of 1831 he spent some time at the Château-Neuf in Meudon, an estate the king Louis-Philippe freely put at his disposal. During his stay in France, he became a friend of the famous general La Fayette.

A stud is then installed below the old gardens at the bottom of Meudon. The Prince of Orleans, under the July Monarchy, stayed there in 1834 and wrote his memoirs there. But he died accidentally in Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1842.

Louis-Philippe also made available the castle of Meudon to Marshal Soult, who stayed there several times in summer.

On May 8, 1842, a railway catastrophe took place in Meudon, in which Jules Dumont d'Urville perished. It was the first in France and one of the first in the world. Louis-Philippe offered the Château-Neuf to treat the survivors.

After the revolution of 1848, plans were made to make Meudon the new headquarters of the Ecole Polytechnique (Ecole Polytechnique). But these grandiose projects, one of which was established by the architect Hector-Martin Lefuel, in the end did not see the light of day.

Meudon and the Second Empire: the hideout of Prince Napoleon[edit]

Le Prince Napoléon, by Hippolyte Flandrin, 1860. Musée d'Orsay

Although Meudon was assigned to the Prince Jerome's uncle of Napoleon III, he did not come here. On the contrary, from 1860 to 1870, his son, Napoleon Bonaparte, cousin of the Emperor Napoleon III, often occupied Meudon. In Paris he owned the famous Pompeian house sheltering his connection with the actress Rachel, but it was to Meudon that he comes to "sulk" the protocol of the imperial court, of which he was not fond. He brought his wife, Princess Clotilde, and her three children, Louis Bonaparte (1864-1932), Louis Victor and Marie Laetitia. He collected many species of plants and exotic animals, brought back from his travels abroad. Several large receptions were organized at the castle, such as the one in honor of Louis I, king of Portugal, in 1867

1871 Château-Neuf fire and takeover by the Observatoire de Paris[edit]

View from the terrace at Meudon's château-neuf during the Paris Commune, 1870
The Château-Neuf at Meudon in 1871, after the fire. 21 Fi 76
Project for a dome in the heart of the Château-Neuf, never built. Circa 1880

Because the site is strategic, dominating Paris, a battery of Prussian artillery was installed there in 1870. The new castle caught fire on 31 January 1871 and burned for almost three days. Hypotheses on the cause included either a deliberate fire set by the Prussians as they left, or a bombardment by La Douai , a naval cannon, placed in bastion 74 of the Thiers precinct. The ruins were preserved for several years, until the site was entrusted to astronomer Jules Janssen in 1875. Janssen did not hesitate to raze nearly half the Château-Neuf, and together with architect Constant Moyaux, between 1880 and 1885 built there an astronomical observatory, later attached to the Paris Observatory in 1927.

Since then most of the estate (high preserved gardens) has been closed to the general public, and remains so to this day.

Timeline showing the successive owners of the château of Meudon

The 20th century: a gradual renovation[edit]

View of Paris from the terrace at Meudon, 1889, Louis Tauzin, Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux
Photograph of the Orangery in Meudon, first half 20th century. Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Meudon

Over the years, vegetation has encircled the Orangery, making it inaccessible. The destruction of the old village of Meudon after the war, and the reconstruction of the city center, has removed the once picturesque setting of multiple roofs at the foot of the old castle. The notion of heritage did not gain traction in French society until the 1970s and 1980. The entire estate is now registered as a historic monument, though this was done very late for such a historic site, while similar large estates in Ile-de-France had been declared historic well before.

The domain today[edit]

Although the Château-Vieux was destroyed, it still retains much of the splendor of the domain. In fact, 40% of the surface area of the original buildings, (the remains of the Château-Neuf, orangerie, communes, etc), still exists. One can still admire the avenue of the castle traced by Louvois, the guardhouses and common of the Grand Dauphin, the kennel of Louvois, the great prospect of Servien, the nymph and the orangery of Louis Le Vau, and one can imagine the terraced gardens below the observatory, as well as the pond of Chalais and the green carpet. And above all, the large terrace, the most impressive achievement, is perfectly preserved. The orangery of Meudon was completely restored in 2012.

Thanks to its exceptional location (Paris-Versailles, the most touristic area in France) and its panoramic view of Paris (one of the most spectacular in Ile-de-France), the site is a tourist and economic hub.

The domain today[edit]

Legal status: a split and partly inaccessible space[edit]

Schéma showing areas closed to the general public, coming under the Observatoire de Paris.

Today, the domain of Meudon is divided in two parts.

The lower part: The large terrace and the orangery are managed by the city and are freely accessible to the public.

The upper part: The Observatory (Chateau-Neuf), the high gardens, as well as the communes situated at the entrance, come under the Ministry of National Education and are assigned to the Observatory of Paris. They are closed to the public.

The State still owns the entire estate, both the part assigned to the Observatory and that which is managed by the city government.

However, as regards the part of the domain accessible to the public, the State has signed a management agreement for the national domain of Meudon with the town of Meudon, which now manages it. Financially, the State still plays its role as owner and manages the pruning and maintenance work. It leaves it to the City to manage the site located within its territory.

The rehabilitation project of the Great Perspective[edit]

Schéma photographique restituant la Grande Perspective de Meudon, en direction du Sud. 2015. Aujourd'hui, après le parterre situé au premier plan, l'axe est bouché jusqu'à l'étang visible au dernier plan.

The project to reconstitute the Great Perspective of Meudon was launched as early as the 1980s, but has made little progress to date. Nevertheless, it continues, in consultation with the parties concerned. Indeed, three quarters of this major landscape axis of Ile-de-France, due to André Le Nôtre, are preserved. Only the part between the parterre of the orangery and the pond of Chalais remains blocked.

Schéma of the Grande Perspective at Meudon, 2015. Legend: 1. Avenue of the château; 2.Grande Terrasse of the château; 3. Orangery; 4. Part still blocked; 5. Chalais pond; 6. Tapis Vert

The archaeological potential[edit]

Schéma projetant l'emprise des débris archéologiques de Meudon.[7]

No excavation has ever been undertaken on the site of the destroyed Chateau-Vieux. However, the demolition reports are formal: all the cellars and ditches are kept, under the current lawn. An archaeological campaign would make it possible to highlight this hidden heritage.

The only unknown parameter is the exact nature of the impact on the subsoil at the Château-Vieux right-of-way during the Prussian occupation in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Indeed, The Prussians occupied the whole terrace of Meudon, to bombard the capital and follow the operations.

Plan archéologique de la Grande Terrasse de Meudon, avec le plan d'une partie de l'ancien village, détruit pour agrandir la terrasse.

Detailed description of the domain[edit]

Old Castle[edit]

3D rendition of the château-vieux of Meudon at its apogee, circa 1704. Franck Devedjian et Hervé Grégoire, 2012
Plan of the ground floor of the château-vieux, circa 1700. BNF

The Château-Vieux was the central building of the estate, and the first historical castle at Meudon. It aligned with the Great Perspective.

Cross-section of the Château-Vieux of Meudon, around 1705. Legend: 1.Small Bridge 2. Chapel 3.Cellars 4.Large hallway 5. West ramp 6. East ramp 7. Apartment of the Duke of Burgundy 8. Apartment of the Duchess of Burgundy 9. Monseigneur's wardrobe 10. Mezzanine of Monseigneur 11. Cabinet of Monseigneur 12. Salon of the Moors 13. Antechamber of Louis XIV 14. Church of Louis XIV 15. Passage 16. Cabinet of the king's mirrors 17. Garde-meuble 1 18. Housing 19. Monseigneur's wardrobe. 20. View of Paris. 21. Games antechamber 22. Gameroom 23. Passage 24. Salon of the Petit Pont 25. Housing 26. Lodging of the first doctor 27. Garde-robe of the king 28, 29 & 30. Dwellings

Ground floor[edit]

Layout of the ground floor of the Château-Vieux in 1700
Grand Vestibule and Great Staircase[edit]

These rooms were created when Louis Le Vau rebuilt the central pavilion of the castle for Abel Servien between 1655 and 1658.

The "Grand Apartment" of Monseigneur[edit]

This was the principal dwelling in Meudon of Louis of France (1661-1711), son of Louis XIV, on the ground floor of the east wing of the Château-Vieux. It was preserved intact throughout the 18th century.

In its final configuration, beginning in 1701, it was composed successively of:

  • A guard room;
  • A dining room enlivened by four canvases of Bacchus;
  • A billiard room, adorned with four oval canvases on mythological subjects;
  • An antechamber;
  • The bedroom of the dauphin, where he died on April 14, 1711;
  • A corner cabinet;
  • From a small wooden wardrobe to the Capucine;
  • As well as a small Entresol, wooded with the Capucine;
The guardroom[edit]
Proposed restoration of the guardroom of the apartment of Monseigneur in the château-vieux of Meudon, circa 1700-1792

Blondel specifies in his Françoise Architecture : "In the House of Guards, in a Royal House, is called a large room where the Guards of the Prince are held, and against the panels of which are attached carabiners, To lay down their arms; They also place in these sorts of places drums, which are the kinds of tables on which are made the counts, and of which the bottom receives during the day the beds in which the Gardes du Corps take their rest during the night. These rooms must be spacious, very high, have large chimneys, and be decorated with simplicity. See those of Versailles, of Meudon, of the Chateau des Thuileries ...".

The dining room of the Dauphin (from 1700)[edit]
Proposition de restitution de la salle à manger de Monseigneur, rez-de-chaussée du château-vieux de Meudon, aile est. Etat vers 1700-1792.

The inventory of 1775 indicates that the room is, since the works of enlargement of 1700, "wooded height of gilded frames, cornice of the same, chimney of green marble campan ...". In 1700, Monseigneur commissioned four different painters to paint "bacchic" subjects. The same artists then worked to adorn the grand salon of the Chateau de Marly.

  • From Charles de La Fosse (1636-1716): 'The triumph of Bacchus',' carried on an elephant, with his tyrse in his right hand, several Baccantes around carrying instruments; On the front of the picture there are two children, one of which is mounted on a tyger, on the left one sees Silenus on the reverse. "(Louvre Museum, INV No. 4537).
  • From Jean Jouvenet (1644-1717): The birth of Bacchus' ',' Mercury which flies after having put it in the hands of the Nimphes. This first episode in the life of Bacchus relates to the legend of Semele, his mother, who was beloved by Jupiter, and whose misfortune Juno obtains from lightning.
  • From Bon Boullogne (1649-1717): 'Venus, Bacchus and Ceres, to know "A passage from Horace which says that without the good dear Venus cools; On the left of the picture is Baccus, who presses a grape of grapes into a cup that a Flora holds; Beside her, a Ceres who looks at her; In the bottom, under a trellis, there is a dressed buffet; In the middle of the picture, below, there are two little children who seem to ask to drink, they are lying on a tiger. " This painting is preserved in the Louvre Museum where it is called "Bacchus and Ariane". It is also named in the ancient inventories Bacchus and Ariane, Bacchus and Erigone or Bacchus, Flora and Ceres. Sent to the Central Museum at the end of the year II, he had lost his attribution but had remained at the Louvre where he was found among the anonymous members of the French school (Inv. 8608). It is to be restored.
  • And of Antoine Coypel (1661-1722): 'Silenus smeared with blackberries by the nymph Eglé' '. The theme of this work is of the greatest rarity. It is taken from an episode of Virgil's "Eclogues", number 6 entitled "Silenus," in which Virgil writes: "And as the old man opens his eyes, he blushes his forehead and the temples of the juice Bloody of the blackberry. ". It is because Silenus, asleep in a cave after his usual drinking, is surprised by two satyrs and by the nymph Egle, for whom he promised to sing. The two satyrs seized Silenus, which they tied with ivy-stalks, while the beautiful Egle blushed her face with blackberries, which she crushed in order to snatch from her threat the fulfillment of her promise . Measurements: 4 feet 9 inches by 4 feet 1 inches. The picture was substantially cut in the nineteenth century. It is preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts of Reims, INV. D.872. 2. 5.
The billiard room[edit]

Beginning in 1700, the old staircase of Louvois and Jules Hardouin-Mansart was condemned to create a row of rooms, including the "Salon du Billard". The inventory of 1775 indicates that the room is "wooded of height, with gilded frames, cornice gilded, chimney of gryot marble". Monseigneur ordered for this room a series of paint on the top of door, of the same size and of oval form. It's about :

  • From Charles de La Fosse: Hercules between Vice and Virtue; "At the top of the picture Wisdom, represented by Minerva, whose child is wearing a shield, points out to Hercules the temple of Memory on the left. H. 4 feet 10 inches; L. 3 feet 5 inches; oval. Top of door. Billiard room. For the execution of this work Charles de La Fosse was paid twice, 600 livres in 1700, and 200 livres in 1701, "for the perfect payment of 800 livres for the picture he made at Meudon, representing Hercules" . (CBR t IV col 675). The painting, painted in 1700, had a format of 3 feet 10 inches2 by 3 feet 5 inches. Villot correctly identified the painting of Meudon with a canvas, now rectangular, in the museum of Nevers in 1872 (Invitation Villot, n ° 4538, 1m 20 x 1m 09).

From Jean Jouvenet: Latone and the peasants of Lycia, where one discovers "Latone with his two sons asking for water from the peasants of Lycia who refused to appear in an attitude of supplication, raising his arms upwards, invoking Jupiter who transforms them into frogs; At the bottom of the landscape there appears a flock of cows passing over the edge of the marsh. " A copy of this work is preserved in the Museum of Art and History of Meudon, another, undoubtedly the original, in the castle of Fontainebleau (IV col 675). It is inspired directly by the central white marble sculpture of the Latona fountain in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.

  • From Louis de Boullogne the young man: Cephale and Procris who gives a dart to his husband; She has her left arm extended and her hand resting on a dog she seems to caress; At the top of the picture there appears a cupid which carries the torch of the hymen. ". After being deposited at Compiegne (8676), the painting was sent in 1962 to the Musée de Saint-Etienne under the title: Venus and Adonis , and attributed in error to Bon Boullogne. Its ancient oval shape is clearly visible. The painting was made and posed in 1700, as David and Abigail commissioned by the same painter. A preparatory drawing is held at the Cabinet des Arts Graphiques in the Louvre (Inv. 24961).
  • Antoine Coypel], then the youngest painter of the four: 'Hercules bringing back Alceste from the underworld; Height 3 feet 10 inches; Width 3 feet. It is a question of "Hercules returning to Admetus his wife Alceste that he brings back from the Underworld", a picture brought to Meudon by Antoine Coypel himself. (CBR t IV col 675). The painting was placed before May 1700, according to a memoir cited by F. Engerand (Inventories of the Royal Tablets, Paris, 1899, p. Charles-Antoine Coypel, the painter's son, showed the novelty of these literary subjects. To execute the painting of Meudon, Antoine Coypel was translated by Mme Dacier the fifth act of the tragedy of Euripides. The painting is preserved in the Cholet Museum of Art and History, Cholet Museum of Art and History. The work was formerly titled "Hercules Delivering Theseus"! In May 1700, Antoine Coypel came to Meudon himself to install his work hardly completed.
The antechamber (former dining room of the Dauphin from 1695 to 1699)[edit]
Proposition de restitution de l'antichambre du dauphin au château-vieux de Meudon, vers 1700, avec la collection de tableaux d'André Le Nostre.

The former "dining room of Monseigneur", which had this function in 1695, became a real antechamber with the enlargement of the apartment. The inventory of 1775 indicates: "Room lighted by two windows, paneling with gold frames, gilded cornice, ceiling in gilt arabesque and painted by Audran. Jacques-François Blondel recalls his admiration for these ceilings of arabesques by Meudon, although he condemns the style of the ceiling to decorate the dwelling of a prince:

« D'ailleurs l'on peut réduire ces ouvrages à des nuages avec des Génies, & à quelques belle grisaille qui en forme les extrémités; décoration préférable à ces riches, mais peu vraisemblables peintures grotesques, dont on voit d'ingénieux desseins d'Audran, & qui sont exécutées avec un succès étonnant dans quelques appartements de Meudon, aussi bien que dans les plafonds & sur les lambris du Château de la Ménagerie: seul bâtiment où ce genre de peinture soit convenable ».

The inventory of 1775 adds that there is also a "green Campan marble chimney, the top of the mantelpiece decorated with marble of any height with gold-bronze ornamentation of ground gold, the mirror in two parts, the first 52 inches wide by 96 inches high, the second 52 inches idem 26 inches high Two tables above the doors of each 3 feet 6 inches wide by 2 feet 9 inches high, representing fruit and Flowers, painted by Batiste Fontenay ".

In this antechamber, the dauphin placed the collection of paintings offered to Louis XIV in 1693 by André Le Nôtre and which the king put at the disposal of his son. These works are now preserved in the Louvre Museum.

The bedchamber of the Grand Dauphin[edit]
The Bacchus of Leonardo da Vinci, musée du Louvre, work placed in the chamber of Monseigneur in 1705

The inventory of 1775 indicates that the chamber of the Dauphin possesses: "Wall panels of gilded frames, gilded cornice, gilded ceiling and painted in arabesques by Claude Audran III, marble serancolin fireplace, the top in violet brown marble, the whole very ornamented with bronze gilded of ground gold. (...) Two paintings above doors of 3 feet 5 inches by 4 feet 1 inch of width representing fruits painted by Batiste ". It is in this room that Monseigneur died on April 14, 1711. This chimney excited the curiosity of the researchers: the famous little painting preserved at Versailles, representing "the Regent in his Cabinet of work with the Duke of Chartres" By Fiske Kimball as representing the Dauphin at Meudon. Of course, one finds there the type of furniture and decorations that could decorate the castle. But Jerome de La Gorce asks the right question:

"Has this interior really existed? Is it not surprising that the chimney, the paneling to the left of the door and the desk, that is to say, most of the elements of the decoration, are identical in the engraved work of Berain? Does not the painter, whose career is still obscure, have had recourse to the plates published by the draftsman to reconstruct a framework worthy of the personages whom he represented? The inventory of the furnishings of the crown mentions in the year 1695: "[n °] 1615 - An upholstery [sic] of red and yellow satin velvet, embroidered and silver lined, listed before No. 783, Which has been upgraded and furnished to serve Monseigneur le Dauphin at Meudon, now consisting of a full bed, four armchairs, eight folding seats, two panes, two doors, six sheets of screens, a business chair and two tapestries".

In addition, Monseigneur retrieved for his room the small ebony desk encrusted with copper and tortoiseshell which he had bought at Godron, which had a plateau supported by eight bronze caryatids, with, in the middle of the marquetry, one cupid on a escarpolette. In addition to this desk, the room included a table and two pedestals, the tablets of which were decorated with Chinese grotesques with figures and birds.

Essai de restitution de la chambre of Monseigneur, in the "Grand Appartement" on the ground floor of the east wing of the château-vieux in Meudon. Circa 1700-1711. (Les mesures des miroirs sont justifiées par les sources)
Corner Cabinet[edit]
Proposition de restitution of the corner cabinet of the dauphin. Condition between 1700 and 1792
Le triomphe de Pandore, Charles de La Fosse. Vers 1685. Collection particulière. Modello pour le plafond peint pour Louvois. Monseigneur fera supprimer ce plafond, lui préférant les arabesques de Claude Audran III

The inventory of 1775 indicates that the room is adorned with "Wall panels with large gold frames, golden cornice, gilded ceiling with arabesques painted by Audran. Chimney of violet breccia marble, the top decorated in marble of all the height with bronzes very rich in children and ornaments gilded of ground gold (...). As with the two previous rooms, Audran decorated with arabesques the ceiling: "Having come to Meudon on April 22, 1699, the king left on the 24th; Two days later, on the 25th of April, Mansart received orders from Monsignor to have the paintings of the ceiling of his corner cabinet erased, to print it with three layers of white, and to paint a base Grotesque like that in the room of the Dauphin. " The ceiling which was then erased can only be that realized by Charles de La Fosse for Louvois, whose subject is Pandore, and whose modello has been identified by Clémentine Gustin-Gomez. In 1702 there was found: "In the Grand Cabinet of Monseigneur: Five Porcelains, 630 Louis; Two Bronzes 180 Louis. Stéphane Castelluccio identified these two bronzes as the Laocoon and Lutteurs, for which Monseigneur certainly commanded their rich 'feet of marquetry'. Finally, the inventory of the royal furniture (Tome II, pp. 434, 1697) indicates under the number: "1768 - Four couty mats striped with two strands of wool, with their threads of several colors, for the windows of the cabinet of Monseigneur at Meudon. "

Saint-Simon, describing the death of the Grand Dauphin, tells us that it is in this room, on the evening of April 14, 1711, that the famous scene of the comings and goings takes place between the corner "Cabinet" The King, and the adjoining room where Monseigneur is dying:

"As he was about to enter the room, the Princess of Conti, who had had time to run to Monseigneur's in that short interval of the table-out, presented herself to prevent him from entering the room. She even pushed him away, and told him that he must no longer think of anything but himself. Then the king, almost in weakness of so sudden and complete a reversal, let himself go on a couch which was at the entrance of the door of the closet by which he had entered, which gave into the room. He asked all that came out of it for news, and hardly anyone dared to reply. Madame de Maintenon, hastening to the king, sat on the same sofa and tried to weep. She was trying to take the king, whose carriages were already ready in the courtyard, but there was no way of making him realize that the Monseigneur had expired. This unconscious agony lasted nearly an hour after the king was in the closet. The Duchess and the Princess de Conti divided themselves between the care of the dying man and of the king, to whom they frequently returned, while the confused Faculty, the distraught valets, the buzzing courtesan, pushed each other and walked without ever changing place ".

The apartment called of the Duke and the Duchess of Burgundy[edit]

It was situated between the Grand Vestibule and the apartment of Monseigneur.

These rooms were the main apartment of Abel Servien, who died there in his room on the ground floor in 1659.

When Monseigneur settled in Meudon in 1695 he gave this dwelling, next to his own, to Philip of Orleans (1640-1701), who occupied it until his death in 1701. The dwelling was then occupied by the Duke and the Duchess of Burgundy until their death in 1712.

The rooms on the ground floor[edit]

Distribution of the ground floor of the Château-Vieux of Meudon in 1700

The first floor contained large reception rooms, mainly the "Salon des Moures" and the gallery.

Salon des Maures[edit]
Sketch of restoration of the salon from the entrance, by the Grand Escalier (great staircase). Circa 1695
Sketch of restoration of the salon des Maures (salon of the Moors). Circa 1690

Abel Servien created this oval room, centerpiece of the castle, which looks out on the parterre. This salon was built at the same time as the one at Vaux-le-Vicomte was built for Nicolas Fouquet, and is similar, although slightly smaller in size. The cupola received no painted decoration. Gabriel Blanchard the twelve grisailles under the cornice, which the 1733 inventory describes: "In the same salon there are twelve paintings painted in grisaille representing the twelve months of the year by games of" children, they are of damoiselet [faux, of Gabriel Blanchard], and can not raise the place being all maroufles, having height two feet, wide 6 feet 5 inches.

Louvois placed in this salon twelve terms in Moorish and Moorish marble, eight of which are now in the Palace of Compiegne, transferred there at the very end of the 18th century. The minister also embellished the attic with seven paintings of flowers by Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer. The 1733 inventory of paintings of Meudon describes them:

1. "a golden vase filled with all kinds of flowers, laid on a blue carpet embroidered with gold - the bottom of the picture is a sky." 2. "a golden vase, or rather an agathic manner, whose handles are of gold, filled with all kinds of flowers, a carpet behind which is embroidered with gold, with two parrots one blue and the other yellow." 3. "A golden ornamented goderon vase filled with all kinds of flowers - a carpet behind embroidered gold with a red and green parrot". 4. "a vase in the shape of a silver bowl filled with all sorts of flowers placed on a red carpet embroidered with gold with a peacock on the bowl." 5. "a golden vase garnished with all kinds of flowers of which a poppy falls with one of its leaves on the pedestal on which the vase is laid." 6. "A golden vase laid on a foot-filled way filled with all kinds of flowers with a peacock behind the vase." 7. "a gold and silver vase set on a blue and gold carpet whose lining is crimson with a monkey holding a fish."

The antechamber called games[edit]
Essai de restitution de l'antichambre des jeux, vers 1700, avec la tapisserie de l'audience du cardinal Chigi, issue de la tenture de l'Histoire du Roi

After the Salon des Maures a series of reception rooms served as rooms for games, and, as it were, for so-called "apartment" evenings, as at Versailles. The first room after the oval salon was square and had two windows on the side of the pit. Monseigneur the dauphin hung on the wall the tapestry of the History of the King, to please his father.

The room called games[edit]

The second room was similar to the first, and was also enriched with draperies, the northern bays being clogged for this purpose.

Essai de restitution de la chambre dite des jeux, vers 1700. De nombreuses tables de jeu prenaient place dans cette pièce, pour les soirées dites d'appartement.
Salon du Petit Pont[edit]
Essai de restitution of the Salon du Petit Pont, first floor of the château-vieux in Meudon. Circa 1700

This corner room was one of the two salons framing the gallery. It had access to the "Petit Pont" (small bridge), which led directly to the high gardens. Alexander's porphyry bust was placed there.

Gallery of the old castle[edit]
Schéma of the gallery of the Château-Vieux in Meudon
Bronzes of the Crown placed in the gallery at Meudon in the 18th century, with their inventory numbers

The gallery of Meudon had an area of 300 m², and the main room measured 40 meters long. There were also two drawing-rooms, the Salon du Petit Pont, and the Salon des Albane to the north.

Draft reconstruction of the cross-section of the gallery of the Château-Vieux of Meudon
Draft reconstruction of the view of the chapel from the middle of the gallery, circa 1710
The Albane salon[edit]
Essai de restitution of the Salon des Albane, at the end of the gallery of the château-vieux in Meudon, first floor. Circa 1700

This chamber ends the gallery, and it is the pendant of the Salon du Petit Pont, in symmetry. The salon's name comes from the painter L'Albane, for several oval-shaped canvases had been placed in the corners, copies reinterpreted from the master's work. The architecture of the room, with its niches adorned with mirrors and its domed ceiling, was inspired directly by the Cabinet of the medals of Louis XIV at Versailles.

The dauphin will place there the great bronzes of L'Algarde, Jupiter and Juno.

The apartment said of Louis XIV[edit]
La Charité, d'Andrea del Sarto, Musée du Louvre. Placée dans la chambre du Roi à Meudon.

At the end of the 19th century, Louis XIV's apartment consisted of an antechamber, a royal chamber, a small passageway to the rear, That of a "cabinet of the mirrors of the King", which had a balcony allowing to admire the view on Paris.

The antechamber, for the Council[edit]
Essai de restitution de l'antichambre de Louis XIV au premier étage du château-vieux de Meudon, servant de salle du Conseil. Vers 1696-1711. Vision en sortant de la chambre du roi

This room without woodwork had three windows on the side of the floor and two French windows on the side of the courtyard allowing to reach the balcony. The mantelpiece was of Campanian green marble.

The bedroom of Louis XIV in Meudon[edit]
Proposition de coupe de la chambre de Louis XIV au château-vieux de Meudon, vers 1700.

Above the fireplace of the king's chamber was placed the original of the "Charity" of Andrea del Sarto, then a copy of this painting. This work can be interpreted as an allegory of the transmission of royal power.

The cabinet of the mirrors of the king[edit]
Apartment of Mlle de Maintenon[edit]
David et Abigail, par Louis de Boullogne, musée du Louvre, inv. 8548.

At the same time, Madame de Maintenon's apartment, which consisted of an antechamber, a bedroom, and a closet in the center of the east wing of the chateau, benefiting from a balcony with a view of Paris. In the cabinet of Maintenon there was above the door, in particular, a Louis de Boullogne painting of David and Abigail.

Apartment of the Princess of Conti[edit]
Schéma restituant le volume de la chambre de la princesse de Conti à Meudon, vers 1705.
Projet de cheminée du cabinet des miroirs de Meudon, vers 1680 ? Nationalmuseum de Stockholm, NMH THC 1326

Afterwards, the apartment of the Princess of Conti followed and ended with another "Cabinet des mirroirs".

In the Princess room were two paintings by Antoine Coypel, Psyche discovering Sleeping Love, and Psyche abandoned by Love

In the adjoining cabinet was placed the painting entitled "Venus at the Forges of Lemnos", by the same painter. These three works were commissioned by Monseigneur for the apartment of his half-sister.


3D recreation of the interior of the chapel at Meudon. Franck Devedjian and Hervé Grégoire, 2014

The chapel was completed at the end of 1702, on the plans of Jules Hardouin-Mansart. This construction, desired by Monseigneur, was aimed at by Louis XIV. This chapel follows the same model as the Royal Chapel at the Chateau of Versailles and the Royal Chapel of Versailles. However, the chapel of Meudon was completed a decade before that of Versailles. Like the latter, it has a barrel-vaulted nave ending in a cul-de-four above the sanctuary. Above the high altar is a large painting of Antoine Coypel, four meters high, eighty-five by three wide, which features the "Resurrection". Charles de La Fosse will model this composition to undertake the painting of the kiln furnace of the royal chapel of Versailles. Another painting by Coypel, The Annunciation, completes the set.

The arms carved above the tribune are royal weapons on the drawing projecting the chapel, but will eventually be realized according to the model of weapons delphinales. The architectural theorist, Jacques-François Blondel, cites as an example, with the chapels of the Châteaux de Sceaux and Clagny "Perfect models".

It will be destroyed between 1805 and 1808.

The Chestnut Wing[edit]

Plan of the apartment of the chestnut trees, circa 1703 (ADY). Caption: 1. communication gallery; 2. Large Oval Cabinet; 3. Large Corner Cabinet; 4. Large Living Room; 5. Dining room; 6. Buffet cabinet; 7. Antechamber of the Small Apartment Fresh; 8. House; 9.Cabinet.

The old "Cour des Offices", or "Basse Cour", was transformed by Monseigneur to create luxurious ceremonial pieces. The whole of the annex will then take the name of "Wing of the Marronniers". The large reception rooms extend over the entire width of the Terrasse des Marronniers. A small, luxurious apartment, the "Small Fresh Apartment", is also arranged behind these large rooms, no doubt for the Dauphin to receive his mistresses there.

There were successively:

The little hanging gallery[edit]

Nature morte avec le profil de Diane, château de Versailles, par Blin de Fontenay. Toile placée dans la petite galerie suspendue de Meudon.

This gallery is linked to the gallery of communication which follows, perpendicularly. A large buffet painted by Fontenay completes the perspective of the small suspended gallery.

The "gallery of communication"[edit]

Essai de restitution de la galerie de communication, aile des marronniers du château de Meudon, état vers 1703-1711.

This piece is decorated with large paintings of François Desportes, realized for the occasion, and which will make the success of the painter.

The "big oval cabinet"[edit]

Chamber of mirrors in Charlottenburg castle, German. This room is contemporaneous of the Grand Cabinet Ovale, similar in its layout, size and systematic use of mirrors
Preparatory drawing for the Triomphe de Bacchus, attributed to Louis de Boullogne. Albertina Museum, Vienna (Austria)

Also called the "Salon doré" (golden salon) where hung the "Triumph of Bacchus" by Bon Boullogne. The painting disappeared, but a preparatory drawing, preserved at Albertina (Vienna), and attributed to his brother Louis, allows us to understand what the composition of this work might look like.

Large corner cabinet[edit]

Essai de restitution du Grand Cabinet de l'aile des marronniers, with the canvases in place circa 1705

The dauphin had some prestigious paintings in this room, including Renaud and Armide by the Dominiquin, and Moses saved from the waters by Nicolas Poussin. These canvases come from the royal collections.

The big show[edit]

It was the main room of the apartment of the chestnut trees, with an area of 100 m². The dauphin placed there other pictures from the royal collections, two of which were by Paul Veronese.

Essai de restitution du grand salon de l'aile des marronniers, vers 1705. Avec les tableaux placés par Monseigneur.

The dining room[edit]

Essai de restitution de la salle à manger de l'aile des marronniers du château de Meudon. Table dressée en 1704 pour recevoir le duc de Bavière, beau-frère du Dauphin.

It was in this hall that the Bishop invited guests to dine.

The cabinet of the buffet[edit]

This small room had two small basins, from which flowed streams of water.

The "Small Fresh Apartment"[edit]

Behind these large reception rooms, the Prince was given a "Small Fresh Apartment", which consisted of:

  • An antechamber;
  • One room;

As well as a cabinet, enlivened miniatures painted by Jean Cotelle the Elder, representing the gardens of Versailles; These three rooms were all wooded at the Capucine, and adorned with the door-tops of Fontenay.

Essai de restitution de la chambre de Monseigneur au sein du Petit Appartement Frais de l'aile des marronniers, vers 1703
Essai de restitution du cabinet du "Petit appartement frais", circa 1703-1711

The Grotto of Meudon[edit]

Restitution 3D de la Grotte de Meudon, état vers 1690-1700. Franck Devedjian and Hervé Grégoire, 2013
La Grotte de Meudon et son parterre, Israël Silvestre, vers 1685.

The cave of Meudon is the twin sister of this "House of the Theater" begun for Henry II in 1556 by De l'Orme and continued in 1559 by the Primatice, a beautiful belvedere which, following enlargements towards the end of century, became the Chateau-Neuf of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Schéma de l'intérieur de la Grotte de Meudon.

"The Primatice painted for the Cardinal of Lorraine for his Chateau de Meudon a cave made up of several rooms, among others that of the pavilion where there were a number of frescoed figures in the ceiling; We destroyed this cave by building the new Castle in the time of Monseigneur the Dauphin ayeul du Roy. "

Vasari speaks of the Grotto when he approaches Primaticius, who is its architect and, as it were, the chief decorator. There is also an interesting description of a traveler from the mid-17th century, preserved in the manuscripts of the Saint-Germain fonds, no. 944, as given by the "Lettres écrites de la Vendée":

"At two leagues from Paris is Meudon, where is seen in the wood an admirable and wonderful grotto, enriched with supports and damping of cut stone, small turrets turned and massed in the ass of a lamp, paved with a pavement Of porphire bastard, speckled with white, red, green, gray spots and of a hundred different colors, noughed by esgouts made with gargoyles and lyon muffles. There are columns, figures and statues of marble, grotesque paintings, compartimens and images of gold and azure, and other couleurs. The frontispiece has large fluted and roughened columns, trimmed with bases, Capital, architrave, friezes, cornices and moldings of good grace And just proportion: the vase and taillour sustained on the tests of virtues, approaching the average proportion of the colossi, enriched with leaves of acanthus and ursine branch to sustain the fullness of the stock, Very well conducted and completed; But the troubles have made there irreparable ruins, and especially to the pipes which have been broken".

It was destroyed in 1705 to build the Château-Neuf in the same location.

The "Chateau Neuf" or New castle[edit]

Restitution 3D du château-neuf de Meudon à son apogée, vers 1709. Franck Devedjian et Hervé Grégoire, 2013.
Façade conservée du Château-Neuf de Meudon, 2013.

It is to the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart that we owe the plans of the Château-Neuf. Dangeau specifies May 21, 1706, that being at Marly, "the king worked in the morning with Mansart, who showed him the plans of the buildings that M. M. wants to make at Meudon at the place where the cave is." Monseigneur wished this building to house the courtiers he received at Meudon, and the king aimed at the drawings made for Monseigneur. It is erected on the site of the Grotto, demolished beforehand in 1705.

A long corridor serves all the dwellings: it is not original for the time. What is much more so, is the systematization of the typical dwelling of the courtier, since the whole of the Château-Neuf can be compared to a kind of "hotel" in the contemporary sense that is given to this word .

After nearly two hundred years of existence, a fire ravaged it, on January 31 [1871]. The ruins are left to the inclement weather, probably a little looted, until 1879 where a law concretizes the choice of the site of Meudon as observatory. A project of redevelopment of the ruins was then established by the architect Constant Moyaux, saving from the destruction what remained of the castle, especially the two lower floors less affected by the fire.

The upper vestibule[edit]

Distribution of the Château-Neuf in 1709. Legend: 1. Upper vestibule 2.Corridor 3.Large staircase 4.Salle des Gardes 5.First antechamber 6.Second antechamber 7.Monsignor's parade hall 8. Gallery 9.Cabinet 10.Arrangement -Notary.

The chateau was reached by the upper vestibule on the side of the forest. This one was Italian, pierced by an opening, which made it possible to clear its space. The door-tops were carved with children representing the four seasons, the representation of which is preserved by photographs of plaster models, molded on the originals (Vente Sardou).

The guardroom[edit]

Essai de restitution de la salle des gardes du château-neuf de Meudon, état vers 1709, lors de sa création.

This central room overlooked the flower beds through three rectangular windows (preserved bays). At its creation, it was lined with molded woodwork. On the mantelpiece was a copy by the David of Dominiquin, Louis XIV, particularly fond of this painting. Two paintings were ordered from the side exits: 1. a dog, and a greyhound, on the front in the middle of the game, scattered on the ground ducks partridges beccasses and hare in the middle A game-bag has a tree "; 2. a "hare that is attached to a tree by its left foot, on the left a dog at the feet of which are four partridges and a pheasant, on the front of the table a gun and its supply".

The first antechamber[edit]

Essai de restitution de la première antichambre de Monseigneur au Château-Neuf, vers 1709-1711. Le Grand Dauphin avait placé au sein du château-neuf de nombreuses toiles de Nicolas Poussin, dont les Saisons conservées au Louvre.

In 1775, the piece is described in the following way: "Antechamber or dining room in suitte. Room illuminated by two windows in the Levant, paneling of apui, cornice carved. Chimney of white marble vene (...) Two paintings above the doors, painted on canvas. One represents a golden vase, set on a marble pedestal, with a garland falling in festoons, and fruits. On the pedestal are limes, grenades and grapes, crimson curtain and sky background, the other represents a golden bronze vaze, surrounded by a garland of flowers posed on a fullte of green marble, beside is a vase Of silver overturned with a figure of a woman in the form of an anchor. These two paintings are from Fontenay ". The middle of the room is adorned with "a table of black mastic with flowers and birds in the natural".

The second antechamber[edit]

Essai de restitution of the antechamber of the château-neuf in Meudon, circa 1709-1711. La pièce était boisée à la Capucine and gilded

When the Château-Neuf was finished in 1709, on avait disposé two paintings ordered from Fontenay, comme pour toutes les autres pièces de l'appartement, ce qui uniformisait le décor, à savoir : "A golden vase with two handles, surrounded by a garland of fruit, placed on a table of porphire, which is furnished with grapes; On the right, a basket filled with Italian grapes, cucumber, pomegranate and flowers; on the left, a crimson curtain, behind which are several golden basins, one of which is surrounded by a garland of flowers."

A pyramid of fruit resting on a marble table, on which is a melon hung next to a pomegranate; On the right, on the same table, an orange tree in a porcelain vase; On the same table, on the left, a large golden vase surrounded by a garland of flowers, at the foot of which is another silver vase reversed, a golden dish, a corner of which is hidden by a purple curtain of the same dimensions as the preceding.

The inventory of 1775 indicates that it is a:

"Room illuminated by a cross in the Levant, paneled high, scultée, gilded and varnished on wood, cornice in plaster scultée and gilded idem. The chimney of green-campan. (...) Two paintings above the doors, painted on canvases, each of width on height. The first one represents Apollo and Daphne, this god pursues this nymph who takes refuge in the arms of his father's river Peneus (mythology). The second represents the triumph of Acis and Galathea. The first of these paintings is by Antoine Coypel, the second is Corneille (the elder)".

Parade chamber of Monseigneur[edit]

3D rendition of the parade chamber of Monseigneur at the chateau-neuf of Meudon, condition in around 1710-1711. Franck Devedjian and Hervé Grégoire, 2014

The inventory of 1775 indicates for the parade chamber the following decoration: The room is illuminated by two windows on the east, wooden paneling, varnished and gilded on wood, sculpted and gilded cornice, large alcove supported on pilasters. Two paintings above the doors, painted on canvas, each 4 feet 9 inches wide by 3 feet 3 inches high. One represents a golden vase filled with different flowers, set on a marble ledge. In the background are two columns surrounded by garlands of flowers. The other represents a gold vase with a handle filled with different flowers, stoned on a stone fullteam, beside another vase. And on the other side a piece of drapery which falls on the edge of the full. These two paintings are by Fontenay. In this room is under the glass troughs two tables of green campan marble of long supported on feet consolle gilded and sculpted.

Originally, the alcove was decorated with the grotesque 12 months of Claude Audran III from the Gobelins, which still keeps nine of the twelve originals. The inventory of Crown furniture makes the following description: "A three-piece tapestry of low-woven tapestry, wool and evening, enhanced with gold and silver, manufactured in Paris, the Gobelins manufactory, the design by Audran, On twelve bands of daffodil, the divinities who preside at the twelve months of the year, under grotesque porticoes of different shapes, accompanied by the attributes of each divinity, grotesques, grooves and ornaments, with the sign of the month, separate daffodil bands By other narrower stripes, with a purple background, laden with mosaics, and the figures of Louis of France, all of silver, the top and bottom borders like the bands Narrow, with silver shells and dolphins, the curtain containing 9 aunes 1/8 of course on 3 aunes ¼ high, made expressly for the chamber of Monseigneur, in his apartment of the new castle in Meudon."

Here is the list of the gods attached to the months grotesques:

  • "January under the protection of Juno"
  • "February under the protection of Neptune"
  • "March under the protection of the god Mars and Minerva"
  • "April under the protection of Venus"
  • "May under the protection of Apollo"
  • "June under the protection of Mercury"
  • "July under the protection of Jupiter"
  • "August under the protection of Ceres"
  • "September under the protection of Vulcan"
  • "October under the protection of Minerva and Mars"
  • "November under the protection of Diane"
  • "December under the protection of Vesta"
The months of September and of October, Claude Audran III. Parade chamber.


3D rendition of the interior of the gallery of the Château-Neuf de Meudon, with the visual play of the mirrors' reflections. Franck Devedjian and Hervé Grégoire, 2014
Restitution 3D of the gallery of the château-neuf in Meudon, as it was circa 1709, when it was created. Franck Devedjian and Hervé Grégoire, 2014

The Orangeries[edit]

In order to protect the orange trees from the cold during the winter, two main orangeries were built at Meudon, the most important of which is the Château-Vieux.

Orangery of the old castle[edit]

Traditionally, in French castles since the 18th century, an orangery is both a utilitarian building and a strong element of the monumental composition constituted here by the terrace, the Castle-Vieux and the loggia. Its dimensions determine the magnitude of the great perspective that extends from the castle to the plateau of Villacoublay.

The orangery was probably built between 1655 and 1659 by the architect Louis Le Vau, for owner of the estate Abel Servien, superintendent of finance under Louis XIV. Open to the south though eight high windows on either side of a monumental entrance, the orangery is intended to house the park's orange trees during the cold season. During the summer, orange trees were displayed on its floor around a rectangular basin, as well as on the grounds of the castle and cave. The orangery extends eastward with a bastion in coarse apparatus.

Renovated several times in the 19th century, then abandoned until 1980, the parterre of the orangery was restored between 1980 and 1984, to its 17th-century appearance.

The Orangerie of the new castle[edit]

It was built at the same time as the Château-Neuf, between 1706 and 1708. It was demolished during the reign of Louis XVI.

The greenhouse below the Orangerie du Château-Vieux[edit]

A third building was used for the conservation of shrubs during the winter. The "greenhouse" was located immediately below the bastion of the Orangery of the old castle in Meudon. There is still the wall at the bottom, enclosed, as well as a buttress. The rest of this building adjoins the back of the garden of the Museum of Art and History of Meudon.


Aerial view of the old stables of Meudon. September 2015
Plan for expanding the kennel and creating the stables, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, 1701

The new commons still exist today, perfectly preserved. They are located at the entrance of the estate, at the top of the access avenue to the castle. They were built by the extension of a first building, the kennel of Louvois.

The three inner courtyards connect through a clear central passage for horses. The stables have only one floor, attic, so as not to obstruct the view of Paris from the Pond of Bel Air above. Abundant dwellings for the castle staff furnish this floor.

All the stalls were rebuilt in the 19th century. Some still exist.

Today all of these buildings are assigned to the Observatoire de Paris, which prevents access to all visitors. The commons have a total area of 5,000 m² (2,500 m² on each of the two levels). To this must be added also the area of the adjoining guard-house, of 850 m².

The gardens[edit]

Restitution 3D du domaine de Meudon, vers 1708. Franck Devedjian et Hervé Grégoire, 2012.

The gardens of Meudon were of great magnificence. There were high gardens and low gardens, not to mention the Grande Perspective. The Meudon Way describes the itinerary for discovering Meudon's points of view at the end of the reign of Louis XIV. They are classified as "slope gardens".

The Great Perspective[edit]

Restitution 3D de la vue depuis le balcon du premier étage du pavillon central du château-vieux de Meudon, vers 1690.
Estampe d'Israël Silvestre représentant la Grande Perspective de Meudon, vers 1685. Vue depuis le haut de l'Orangerie.
Restitution de la Grande Perspective de Meudon (photo-montage). par Gilles Fiant, 2017.

The Great Perspective is the monumental axis that organizes all the area of Meudon. It is perfectly rectilinear over a distance of 3.5 km, despite the unevenness of the terrain. It was created on both sides of the Château-Vieux, a place occupied from the beginning.

At its apogee, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, it was composed as follows (from north to south):

  • Avenue du château (planted with four rows of trees)
  • First ditches
  • Front yard (on the right, terrace of the chestnut trees)
  • Second ditches (buried under the terrace)
  • Courtyard of the Château-Vieux, known as the royal court
  • The Château-Vieux (destroyed, cellars preserved)
  • The floor, designed by André Le Nôtre (destroyed)
  • The Orangerie, of Louis Le Vau, with a circular basin
  • The parterre of the Orangerie, with a rectangular basin
  • Lawn, with a white marble statue, unidentified
  • The basin known as the "Grand Carré" (destroyed)
  • New lawn, shorter than first
  • The water grid, with 10 jets of water (destroyed)
  • Other lawn, longer
  • The pond of Chalais (on the right, the carp channel)
  • The Green Carpet
  • The pavilion of Trivaux (under Louis XVI) (destroyed)

The axis ended at an alley drawn on the plateau of Trivaux.

Low gardens[edit]

Drawing by André Le Nôtre for the Ovale. Nationalmuseum of Stockholm, Sweden

They were mainly developed by Louvois, and then embellished by Monseigneur and Louis XIV. Their difference in level and the different points of view made the charm, as well as the presence of many water bodies and thousands of topiaries. It was accessed from the "Grand Carré" basin:

  • The floor of the Oval;
  • On the left, the channel of the shadow;
  • On the right, the half-moon;
  • The wood of Guenegaud, with its pavilion;
  • The basin of the octagon;
  • Below, the "play of M. Le Nostre", framed by two cascades;
  • In the background, the vertugadin, going up.
  • On the left, Cleopatra's grove;
  • The Arthelon canal
  • The Arthelon waterfall
  • The chestnut grove
  • The Small Grotto of the Hotel Courtin
  • The parterre of the Hôtel Courtin

High gardens[edit]

Traité des Eaux de Meudon, 1699, par Nyon. Les jardins hauts.

The area of the high gardens is nearly three times larger than that of the low gardens. The hold of these high gardens is still preserved today, occupied mainly by the Paris Observatory. The gardens consisted of a labyrinthine network of walkways, embellished with numerous pieces of water. Unlike the low gardens, the high gardens were mainly flat, since organized on the hill of Meudon. There were:

  • The parterre of the Grotto, then parterre of the Château-Neuf in 1708
  • The Cradles, simplified in 1708
  • The floor of the Globe
  • The parterre des Bois
  • The Calotte
  • The Parasol
  • The Gladiator
  • The Grove of the Cloisters
  • The Bel Air Basin
  • The gardens of Montafilan, with the stone cabinet
  • The bastion of the Capuchins, which served as a point of view on Paris and Saint-Cloud.

Park and ponds[edit]

The windmills of Villebon, on the heights of Meudon

The park of Meudon extended as far as Chaville, and thence reached that of Versailles. The elevation of the terrain, the dense forest, the numerous ponds, the great plains situated on the heights are the main features of this park in the 17th and 18th centuries. These included:

  • The pond of the Garenne
  • The Triveau pond
  • The pond of the Fountains
  • The pond of Vilbon
  • The Renault Fosse pond
  • The Tronchet pond
  • The old tank
  • The new tank
  • The leg of Oye
  • The farm of Vilbon, with the mills for the waters.

Note that the pond called Meudon was not created until the 20th century.

The historical library of the city of Versailles preserves a manuscript of the reservoirs of Meudon, with the arms of the Grand Dauphin, dating about 1700.

The village of Meudon[edit]

View of the Château-Vieux and of the village of Meudon below. 18th century.
Église Saint-Martin in Meudon today

The village of Meudon was made up of numerous hotels and properties, the most important of which belonged to characters linked to the owners of the castle. These included:

All these buildings and gardens were visible from the castle or its gardens.


  1. ^ Mirot, Léon (1927). "Études Lucquoises". Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes. 88: 275–314. doi:10.3406/bec.1927.452416.
  2. ^ Carroll 2009, p. 88-89.
  3. ^ Michelet (Histoire de France, volume 17, Lacroix & Co., 1877, p. 155) suggests that the Regent ceded the castle of Meudon to his daughter on learning she was pregnant: a prolonged stay in Meudon would allow the young widow to wait out this new pregnancy and give birth with discretion, away from the prying eyes of courtiers and gossipmongers.
  4. ^ The Regent's stratagem failed: going through the last stages of her pregnancy, the Duchess never gave up her daily round of entertainments and sensual debauchery, overindulging in copious suppers washed down with much wine and liquor. On 28 March, she was seized with labour pains at her Palace of the Luxembourg, allegedly after a carnal night of pleasure and heavy drinking. Ill-prepared by her licentious lifeways, her labour was harrowing and lengthy. Saint-Simon sarcastically describes this most perilous childbirth which provoked a great scandal and was seen as the divine punishment for Berry's very sinful life. It seems that the parturient went into eclampsia and seemed about to die. The Abbe Languet de Gercy, parish priest of Saint-Sulpice, refused to administer her the Holy sacraments. On April 2, Berry delivered a stillborn child, thus relieved of her "dangerous indigestion" (as the official version of her "illness" put it).
  5. ^ According to Saint-Simon (Mémoires VII, 456) at the autopsy of the body "the poor princess was found pregnant". As underscored by Duclos (Œuvres complètes, 1821, Vol.6, p.369) Berry had resumed sexual intercourse soon after childbirth ("elle n'avait pas perdu de temps depuis sa couche"). The "fecund Berry" (one of her nicknames in satirical poems) had thus gotten pregnant again during her convalescence in Meudon castle.
  6. ^ "Les collections du département des arts graphiques - Retour de la promenade de Mr le Dauphin au vieux château de Meudon - ISABEY Jean-Baptiste".
  7. ^


  • Carroll, Stuart (2009). Martyrs and Murderers, The Guise Family and the Making of Europe. Oxford University Press.
  • Fiske Kimball, The Creation of the Rococo, (Philadelphia Museum of Art) 1943.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°48′18″N 2°13′52″E / 48.80500°N 2.23111°E / 48.80500; 2.23111